Did Olympic Organizers Have To Cut A Skit Depicting Gisele Being Robbed By A Black Kid?
August 2 / Tanya Ray Fox / SportsGrid
Sometimes I cringe while writing my own headlines. This is one of those headlines. Unfortunately, there was really no other way to say it. Rio has, for months, been the shit sandwich sitting at the bottom of a dumpster as far as Olympic locales go. Now that dumpster has been set on fire.
According to The Washington Post,one of the showpieces set to feature during Friday's Olympic opening ceremony was a skit in which Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen "apparently gets accosted by a boy dressed in what one news site described as 'simple clothes.' "
"A police chase ensues. The newspaper Folha de S. Paulo reported Gisele entering to the song “The Girl From Ipanema” and then being 'robbed.'
Apparently Fernando Alvares Salis, head of the communications department at the Federal University of Rio, was invited to see the rehearsal and deemed the skit to be "totally unacceptable" and demanded that it be dropped entirely.
Filmmaker Fernando Meirelles, the creative director of the ceremony, told The Washington Post that viewers and the media had misinterpreted the skit and that it was all a “tremendous misunderstanding." He said that it was a scene they were testing out in which a food vendor runs to take a selfie with Gisele and when security guards try to chase him down, Gisele intervenes to protect him.
“Imagine us doing a scene like that in the opening,” he wrote in an email. “I’m not that clueless.”
“It was a gag that was not funny so we cut it. There was nothing that looked like a robbery in the scene except two security guards chasing after a vendor. They are three professional clowns."
Okay so I admittedly have no idea what is happening here. Whatever the viewers at the rehearsal saw was clearly very different from what Meirelles is describing. And he's right when he acknowledges that having a young black boy robbing a supermodel would do nothing for lessening racial tensions; or as Salis was quoted as saying, would be a “reaffirmation of a racist stereotype” about violent young black men.
On the other hand, it is incredibly hard to give anyone involved with putting on the Rio Olympic Games any credit. I realize that Meirelles isn't in charge of the horrific housing at the village, or the polluted beaches, or the fact that police are boycotting security duty; but still, there's a deserved air of mistrust surrounding everyone involved in the operation.
At the end of the day, the opening ceremony is likely going to be the only aspect of the games that is even remotely capable of escaping the doom and gloom of the Games themselves. It would be really nice if they managed to get through it without being super racist.
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